Dominant defense helps Penn State escape

September, 17, 2011
9/17/11
3:24
PM ET
Penn State doesn't know its starting quarterback, whether it can rely on a kicker or when its 84-year-old head coach will return to the sideline.

But here's what the Nittany Lions do know: they boast an excellent defense.

Michael Mauti and the rest of Penn State's defenders repeatedly kept the team alive throughout a 14-10 victory against Temple. And after forcing three turnovers and covering up numerous errors by the offense and the special teams units, Penn State's defense was rewarded with a hard-fought victory.

The Lions avoided their first loss to Temple since 1941.

As one of my Twitter followers remarked, "Is Penn State a team with a National Championship D and a Division 3 O?"

The offense clearly needs work, but you had to like what you saw on the game-winning drive. After missing two field goals and having another blocked, Penn State wisely rolled the dice on two fourth-down attempts and moved the chains both times. An offensive line that still is looking for greater consistency imposed its will against the smaller Owls in the red zone.

It set up, what else, a fullback dive for the touchdown by Michael Zordich. JoePa had to love that one.

Quarterback Rob Bolden led the decisive drive and made some big throws, including an 11-yard completion to Derek Moye (7 catches, 112 yards) on fourth-and-2. But it was Matthew McGloin who looked more polished under center, completing 13 of 19 passes with no touchdowns or interceptions. The receivers seem to step up when McGloin's in the game, although there were several nice plays in the clutch with Bolden calling the signals.

Mauti's interception set up the decisive drive, and numerous other Penn State defenders stepped up.

The Lions defense showed it can carry this team at times, but there's still a lot to get sorted out in the other two phases.

At least Penn State can begin the work ahead after a much-needed win.

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